Hurricane Irma impacts for South Carolina still to be determined

Category 5 Hurricane Irma continues to track west at 15 miles per hour as it approaches the Leeward Islands, but many questions remain about what the tropical cyclone will do in the long term.

Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency and is bracing for impacts Wednesday. The 5:00 p.m. advisory product suite from the National Hurricane Center continues to storm generally west-northwest as a major hurricane through Sunday afternoon. Florida is currently the only state in the cone of uncertainty.

Florida's Governor Rick Scott urged residents to remain vigilant and monitor the forecast. Florida declared a State of Emergency Monday which allows the state to prepare for any potential impacts. At the time of this writing, no other states have declared a state of emergency.

The question South Carolina residents have been asking: Will Hurricane Irma impact the Palmetto state?

"It's too early to know what the impacts from Irma will be, " says SkyWACH Meteorologist Justin Kier. "Impacts depend on track, and there is still a lot of model disagreement later in the forecast period."

The National Weather Service in Columbia mentioned in an email sent Tuesday evening, that confidence is growing that South Carolina may see impacts from Irma, but the extent of the impacts will depend on Irma's eventual northward turn.

Kier, who worked for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division as the state's Hurricane Program Manager urges residents to proactively prepare and plan for this event.

"Regardless of what happens with Hurricane Irma, we're in the heart of hurricane season," says Kier. "Now is the time to prepare for this system and any future tropical cyclone that threatens the state."

While the Midlands is not vulnerable to storm surge or surf impacts from a hurricane, the area is vulnerable to every other impact from a hurricane.

"Hurricanes bring destructive wind, flooding rain, tornadoes and other threats to our area," says Kier. "The October 2015 are the prime example of inland tropical impacts right here in our backyard."

To check out the South Carolina Emergency Management Division's 2017 Hurricane Guide click here. Residents should plan not only for themselves, but also for family and pets.

"If you have family or friends that live in storm surge vulnerable areas of South Carolina's coastline, I encourage you to call them and ask them if they live in an evacuation zone," says Kier. "If they do, make sure they know which one and to listen to local, state and federal government agencies for life safety messaging before, during and after hurricanes."

A great resource for hurricane related information is your county emergency management office. All 46 counties in South Carolina are required by the SC Code of Laws to have an emergency manager.

It's also important to get your forecast from trusted sources like official media outlets, the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. There have been a lot of false new stories and irresponsible forecasts put out on social media.

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